The Fair Fight Rules

People often seek help to manage conflict with their partners, lovers, friends and business associates. Here are basic rules for working out conflicts with others in a civil manner:

1. Fight to reach a solution, NOT to gain a victory.

2. You cannot refuse a fight. If something is important enough to one party in the relationship, it is worth fighting about.

3. You may state a gripe about BEHAVIOR, but not about states of being. For example, say, “I don’t like the way you eat,” instead of, “You are a pig when you eat.”

4. The basic outline of a fight is:

A. State your gripe about behavior

B. Suggest and discuss alternatives

C. Reach a solution


6. Don’t make speeches. State your gripe, and then let your partner respond.

7. If you opponent makes a point, you must respond to it before you can go on to another topic. Respond to the point.

8. State your gripe in the form of a positive request, and not a demand. (“Would you please eat more quietly?” rather than “Shut your mouth when you eat.”)

9. If the fight is a question of fact, then it is your duty to get the facts.

10. If the fight is a question of opinion, then you must recognize it as such and reach a compromise as your solution.

11. Don’t play archaeologist. Fight ONLY about present gripes. Do NOT dig things about of the past

12. Don’t mind-read. It is impossible to know what someone else is thinking, so ask instead.

13. Don’t play psychologist. Don’t try to tell your partner what they are thinking or why they do something.

14. Absolutely, positively NO NAME CALLING.

15. NO emotional blackmail.

16. GO BACK TO RULE #1 and NEVER FORGET IT. The point of a fight is to REACH A SOLUTION.

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